Info About Where You Worked Improves Diagnosing Mesothelioma

Your medical records should include a detailed history of the places you’ve worked. Researchers suggest this will help your doctor tell whether symptoms you have are signs of mesothelioma.

The researchers indicate that a complete rundown of your past employment and the materials you handled on those jobs will also come in handy if you decide to seek mesothelioma compensation through the legal system.

The researchers wrote about this in the March 2016 issue of the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health.

They came to these conclusions based on the experiences of a patient who developed pleural mesothelioma from on-the-job asbestos exposure.

The problem for this patient was that he worked in an industry not normally thought of as one where asbestos is encountered.

Not Protected from Asbestos Dust

The researchers who looked into this are from the University of Pavia in Italy. The mesothelioma patient was a furniture maker.

Between 1960 and 2001, the man worked in a number of furniture-making shops in Italy. All of them were modest in size.

However, his exposure to asbestos occurred in only one of those shops. It was the one that employed him from 1982 to 1989.

The researchers said they were able to identify this one shop as the source of the asbestos exposure because the local prosecutor said so. In Italy, a diagnosis of mesothelioma can draw a law enforcement investigation.

During his seven years at that shop, the man helped make bookcases, shelving and tables. Some of these furniture pieces incorporated Roman-style columns in their design.

The columns were fashioned from tubes made with asbestos cement. The man had to cut these decorative tubes to the proper size so that they could then be attached to the furniture.

The cuts were made with the aid of a powered circular saw. Cutting the tubes with this tool produced billowing clouds of asbestos-filled dust that filled the air in the area where the man worked.

The man wore no filter mask or respirator as he made these cuts. As a result, he repeatedly and regularly inhaled the dust.

More asbestos-laden dust was created when the man drilled screw holes into the cut columns. These holes were necessary to permit the columns to be bolted to the furniture body.

Mesothelioma from Unexpected Source

The consequences of asbestos exposure are well known to Italian doctors.

Italian doctors know right away to suspect mesothelioma when a patient with a vicious chronic cough and pleural effusions tells them he worked in a steel plant or in home construction.

But they generally don’t suspect mesothelioma when a patient with those same symptoms tells them he worked in a field where asbestos exposure is uncommon.

The researchers indicated that was precisely what happened to this furniture maker. His doctors were not thinking “asbestos exposure” when he told them he worked in a furniture shop.

But things might have turned out differently if his medical history included the fact that he handled asbestos as part of his job.

The researchers noted that his mesothelioma was far advanced by the time doctors finally began to suspect mesothelioma. He died six months after receiving the formal diagnosis.

“It is not always easy to detect past asbestos exposure, especially in work activities in which asbestos use is unexpected,” the researchers lamented.

The researchers’ article is titled “Pleural Mesothelioma: Case-Report of Uncommon Occupational Asbestos Exposure in a Small Furniture Industry.”